Pacific Mall in Markham dubs itself the largest Chinese indoor mall in North America. While that claim may or may not be completely accurate, few will dispute the fact that its high density and similar-looking corridors can be dazzlingly disorienting for visitors. But there are true gems to be found here if you know where to look.
These are my picks for the 10 greatest hits at Pacific Mall.
Papa Chang's Express
An outpost of the wildly popular Taiwanese restaurant in Markham, this takeout joint is small in size but large on taste and selection. All the usual favourites that make the parent restaurant a favourite are here: the Popcorn Chicken Bento is a must-order, as is the Pork Belly Bun. Wash it all down with an authentic Taiwanese Heysong Root Beer.
Tung Tung Cakes
This takeout shop is single-handedly responsible for that wonderful smell that greets you when you step out of the second floor escalators. Having served their Hong Kong style egg waffles forever, Tung Tung is one of those places you simply have to hit on a visit to the mall. It's located in the kitschy Pacific Heritage Town section of the mall in case you have trouble finding it.
Home to soft serve ice cream with massive cotton candy toppings that are so popular on Instagram, Dolce 21 is a small takeout shop within the mall that actually serves much more than their iconic dessert. Candy bar milkshakes and even healthy smoothies are just some of the other excellent offerings here.
This tiny restaurant cooks up a large variety of home-made stuffed Filipino waffles (my favourite is the ham and cheese) - it's one of those spots that you look at and wonder "where have you been all my life?"
The Best Shop
This gargantuan store is best described as a Chinese Wal-Mart because it has almost everything that an Asian household needs. Plastic buckets, mini washing machines, cutesy facial masks, and a dazzling array of rice cookers are just some of the things you'll find here.
This cute and semi-hidden store located in the mall's basement stocks a stunning collection of small and decorative household items straight from Japan. Bento boxes, cute chopsticks (even chopstick rests), mugs, and mini-storage solutions of every conceivable variety are available here. And the best part? Every single item is only TWO DOLLARS.
Another mainstay at the mall and part of the same group as the large Mississauga restaurant, Axia is where you go if you're craving Asian food served in a slightly less chaotic Western-style environment. The lunch specials here start at $5.99 for a Korean Jajangmyeon, which is an excellent value.
Quite possibly Toronto's only restaurant serving Yanbian-style street food, this tiny gem in the mall's older food court (now dubbed Pacific Mall Gourmet Centre) is definitely worth a visit. The rice cake and pork skewers should not be missed, and their dry hot pot (also known as ma la xiang guo) is excellent.
Ding Dong Snacks
No visit to Pacific Mall is complete without buying an armful of extremely colourful and cute-looking Asian snacks. From Japanese Kit Kats, Moomin cookies, never-before-heard-of varieties of Pocky to Hong Kong/Taiwanese chips, there's something for you here no matter what you're into.
Emperor Hot Pot
What kind of self-respecting Chinese mall would be complete without an excellent AYCE hot pot place? Sitting across the parking lot from the main Pacific Mall building, you can tantalize or torture your tastebuds with the large collection of scratch-made broths they have here. Hardcore fans should go straight for the Emperor Very Spicy Soup. The name says it all.
by Darren "DKLo" Susilo via blogTO